On Thursday, the World Boxing Organization ordered a mandatory title fight between featherweights Gary Russell, Jr. (24-0, 14 KOs) and Vasyl Lomachenko (1-1, 1 KO). Russell is promoted by Golden Boy and Lomachenko is promoted by Top Rank; therefore, almost guaranteeing a fight will not be negotiated in the 30 day window allotted by the WBO.
The two sides, Golden Boy and Top Rank, haven't successfully negotiated a fight with one another in several years. With that being said, may the promoter with the deepest pockets win.
The general assumption would be Golden Boy trumps Top Rank if a purse bid is necessary, as Russell is managed by Al Haymon, boxing's other power broker. Its highly unlikely both Golden Boy and Haymon will cede complete promotional rights to Top Rank. Especially since Haymon fighters are among the top earners in the sport.
In a March 21 article by ESPN's Dan Rafael, Lomachenko's manager, Egis Klimas, told ESPN.com "We are in the position where we are getting a second shot at the title and we are very happy." Although Klimas and the rest of Lomachenko's camp may be happy, there is a climate of discontent among boxers, including Russell, that feel Lomachenko's first title shot was a slap in the face.
Russell recently told The Ring "The WBO title is definitely something that we want, but there's no question that politics played a big part in this situation. First of all, I think that it's completely disrespectful to the sanctioning body.
"It's also disrespectful to all of the other fighters for this guy to have an opportunity to compete for a title after only one fight. Then, he loses, and he gets an automatic shot at the title again in only his third fight?"
The WBO featherweight title became vacant on February 28 when the former champion, Orlando Salido, failed to make weight in his scheduled defense against Lomachenko. In a bid to attach their belt to a moment in history, Lomachenko remained eligible to win the title by the WBO. However, his quest to win a world title in only his second fight was ended with a split decision loss to Salido on March 1.